Dr. Michael Kerkloh

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Kerkloh, CEO of Munich Airport talks about the success story of Munich Airport and why it still continues to be a firm favourite among passengers.

Travel And Tour World – Tell us something about Munich Airport since its inception.

Dr. Michael Kerkloh : Munich Airport opened on May 17, 1992. Though the years up until then, air traffic was handled at the now closed Munich-Riem airport. What made the opening of the new airport so unique was the fact, that the old airport remained in operation late into the night of May 16th, with practically no change to scheduled traffic on that final day. Within just one night, all of the people, vehicles and equipment had to be moved to the new airport. In the early morning hours of May 17, the new airport began to operate very smoothly. Never before had an airport been relocated within a single night. This experience put the Munich Airport Authority in a position to help and advise airport managers all around the world when launching operations at new airports – a role it continues to play up to the present day.





Travel And Tour World – How has the airport developed over its years of operation and where does it stand now, as compared with the past?

Dr. Michael Kerkloh : Munich Airport’s history is a huge success story. Passenger traffic has more than tripled, from 12 million in 1992 to over 38million in 2012. During the same period, the number of aircraft movements doubled from 190,000 to almost 400,000. The rapid growth of Munich Airport can be attributed mainly to its functional transformation from a point-to-point-airport into a European air traffic hub. To support that development Munich Airport and the Deutsche Lufthansa formed a strategic alliance in order to build, finance and operate a new terminal in an innovative joint venture. The resulting Terminal 2 at Munich Airport, which opened in June 2003, is specially designed for the needs and comfort of connecting passengers. Terminal 2, which was designed to handle 25 million passengers per year, is now stretched to the limit.




Travel And Tour World – Enlighten us about the traffic flow, both in terms of domestic and international passengers? What changes do you hope to see as compared with 2013?

Dr. Michael Kerkloh : Despite the difficult economic conditions in Europe, Munich Airport set a new passenger record in 2013, with almost 39 million passengers – about one percent more than in 2012. International flights accounted for about 75 percent of the traffic. We expect further increases in passenger figures in 2014 and subsequent years.



Travel And Tour World – What is the main goal of Munich airport and where do you see yourself in the years to come?

Dr. Michael Kerkloh : Munich Airport is well on the way to achieving its goal of becoming one of the world’s most attractive and sustainable hub airports. To keep up with the rising passenger demand, Munich Airport and Lufthansa have started with the construction of a satellite terminal. This new passenger facility is essential for keeping Terminal 2 on track with the outstanding growth it has achieved since opening in 2003. It will be the first midfield terminal to go into operation at a German airport. This configuration, as an island on the airport apron, permits aircraft to dock on both sides of the building. As a result, the satellite will have gate positions for a total of 27 aircraft and provide added capacity for 11 million passengers per year.




Travel And Tour World – Munich Airport ranks among the world’s best-known airports. What sets it apart?

Dr. Michael Kerkloh : Munich Airport was again named Central Europe’s Best Airport in the World Airport Awards by the London-based aviation consultancy Skytrax in 2013. In the overall European rankings, Munich was number two, behind Amsterdam, as in the previous year. At the global level, the surveyed passengers ranked only five airports ahead of Munich: Singapore, Seoul, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Beijing. The particular strength of Munich Airport is probably a specific mixture of technical and functional qualities as well as the Bavarian friendliness and hospitality.




Travel And Tour World – How does Munich Airport handle its customers and what is the main ethos behind the services that you seek to provide to the passengers?

Dr. Michael Kerkloh : Living ideas – connecting people. This is the new claim of Munich Airport and it describes the ethos behind our services very well. Our aim is to offer a maximum of benefits of all kinds to meet all of the various needs of passengers and airlines . The challenge of going head to head with the world’s other leading airports comes with the duty to re-assess our work at all times and to listen carefully to those we are working for.




Travel And Tour World – What high-quality services do you provide? Are you planning any big changes this year?

Dr. Michael Kerkloh : In 2014 we are looking forward to the launch of several attractive new long haul connections from Munich. Lufthansa is going to offer a daily nonstop service to Mexico City starting at the beginning of April. Also in April, United Airlines will add a daily flight to Houston. And at the end of June Lufthansa will introduce a new daily nonstop service to Toronto.

Our quality services include a wide range of activities, both on the aviation and non-aviation sides. For example, Munich Airport offers a “ramp direct service” for connecting passengers arriving on delayed flights. Passengers in danger of missing connecting flights due to a late landing are picked up directly from the arriving aircraft along with their luggage. But, even for passengers who do miss their connections, there is a silver lining: the opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of attractive shops and the excellent bars and restaurants at Munich Airport. According to the 12 million voters in the last Skytrax survey, Munich is number one in the world when it comes to airport restaurants. And it is also the only airport in the world that runs its own brewery, our famous Airbräu.




Travel And Tour World – How effective are the well-appointed airport lounges in attracting more passengers and ensuring quality services and comfort for them?

Dr. Michael Kerkloh : Of course several airlines run their own top class lounges at Munich Airport. Flughafen München GmbH, which operates Munich Airport, also offers exclusive service in three lounges: ATLANTIC, EUROPE and the VIP-WING. VIP-WING, which opened in the summer of 2011, is the largest of our lounges: Situated in the southern wing of Terminal 1, the bright, spacious rooms in the new lounge have a total area of 1,200 square meters (13,000 square feet), and combine a cosmopolitan feel with Bavarian local color. Facilities available to guests include suites, conference and working rooms, wireless LAN, rest areas, showers, an extensive collection of international newspapers and magazines, a non-denominational prayer room and a separate smoking area.




Travel And Tour World – What are new technologies and security measures have you put in place to ensure the safety of travellers? How do you propose to handle pressure at the time of emergencies?

Dr. Michael Kerkloh : Munich Airport undertakes all possible measures to ensure the safety of travelers and implements state-of-the-art technology in every area – from aircraft de-icing to escalators and moving sidewalks. Also ensuring a smooth and trouble-free travel experience at Munich Airport is the clear and understandable signage. With the new InfoGate kiosks developed by Munich Airport,

passengers in areas with no information desk can interact via high-definition screens with an agent inthe airport’s central information office. Munich Airport is also ready to respond to emergencies at all times with its highly skilled personnel, who take part in drills on a regular basis.




Travel And Tour World – What airport challenges and issues could lie ahead for you and what are the best ways of dealing with them?

Dr. Michael Kerkloh : The big future challenge for the air transportation industry in general and also for Munich Airport will be to stay on track for continued growth and success while reducing and limiting the possible impact on the environment and global climate. Enormous progress has been made in recent years in such areas as energy efficiency and aircraft noise reduction. For example, thanks to technological advances, the aircraft operating today are already 20 dB(A) quieter than those flying in 1970. This represents a 75 percent reduction in subjectively perceived noise. We believe that if we wish to foster public acceptance, we need not only to keep developing the mobility infrastructure in line with demand. Moreover, we must demonstrate our commitment by setting ambitious targets, for example for CO2 emissions. At Munich Airport we have set the strategic goal of achieving carbon-neutral growth and offsetting additional energy needs through extensive savings in other areas.




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